The game of roulette is a favourite of casinos the world over, dating all the way back to the Old American West. This particular table presents all the characteristics of a classic American style – specimens such as this generally began their lives in the bars and saloons that dotted the Old Western frontier, and were popular resorts for the miners, prospectors and travellers that frequented the establishments. With the decline of the American Frontier, such roulette tables eventually entered private collections. This particular table has been fully restored, while still keeping the original wood and materials from its construction over a century ago. The table can be re-clothed in a variety of colours, from traditional olive green to classic Windsor red.
When we began work on the restoration of this late 1920’s roulette table last year no one could have guessed that it would lead to one of the most remarkable discoveries in the Games Room Company’s history. Made from American walnut, the table has undergone a sensitive and thorough refurbishment at our workshop, but it was only when our restorers dismantled the wheel assembly that they learned of its hidden secret in the form of ‘cheat’ feature designed to allow the croupier to improve the odds in favour of the house. The mob controlled most of the gaming activities during prohibition era Chicago and with the use of a discreet button concealed on the edge of the table they were able to influence the run of play.
The two large batteries we found housed in one of the table legs effectively powered a mechanism which, when activated by the controller, forced a tiny pin out into the path of the ball as it travelled around the outside of the wheel. The intervention was so sudden and so brief that the naked eye couldn’t possibly have detected it, and so we must assume that many a punter left the table shaking his head and cursing his bad luck, completely unaware that the mob’s rigged table had ensured that he never stood a chance!
Far more than a simple game, the roulette table is an artifact from one of the defining eras of American history, and of great cultural significance. During this time, it was at the centre of a fast-growing gambling industry that became the epitome of leisure for everyone – from the poorest farmers to the wealthiest elite. Now, in a world of digital gambling innovations and ever more sophisticated table designs, this model maintains its distinctive appeal by being one of the few with a genuine historical claim.